May 7, 2012
• Watch Bryans' Press Conference
MADISON, Wis. – Women’s rowing head coach Bebe Bryans met with the media at Monday's weekly news conference. Archived video of Bryans’ appearance can be found above, while a complete transcript can be found below.
Bebe Bryans: We're excited going into the championships. It's hard for all of us to believe it's that time already. We have a countdown clock in one of our workout rooms and we all remember looking at it we were talking about it today looking at it, seeing 140 days and we thought, gosh, this winter is never going to end. And it's a lot less than that.
We're excited. We're a little bit of an unknown still. The academic schedule and where spring break was limited our racing capability just a little bit. But we know what we know and it doesn't really matter what other people know.
So we're pretty excited going into this weekend. I think we've got a strong team, and we're really excited and looking forward to racing, which is the way to go into a championship.
Question #1: Sounds like you're sandbagging somehow. Should we interpret it that way?
Bryans: Not at all. One of the exciting things about this year's Big Ten Championship is I think it's the strongest Big Ten Championships ever.
I think the top four ranked teams right now are it really will come down to who brings their best racing performance. And I think this is one of the strongest teams I've ever been associated with, which is really fun and exciting.
And I know that Michigan's on an upswing. They've struggled a little bit in the past and their varsity eight is just kicking it this year. Ohio State is really strong. Michigan State is coming on. Minnesota is ranked now. We've got five Big Ten teams in the top 20 and I think three of us are in the top 10.
So it's just going to be awesome. And I'm just happy that I know that we're going to go and compete. I've never felt that I haven't felt this confident in a team's ability to compete since I've been at Wisconsin.
So I'm really happy with this group. And come what may, I know they're going to race. And that's all you can ask as a coach.
Question #2: That kind of speaks volumes, because you're pretty competitive in your sense of the competitiveness of your team, that's not an outrageous statement but pretty bold, wouldn't you say?
Bryans: I would say that. Part of it is just it's been coming and we've had great classes in the past and we've had great boats in the past.
Not to say that we're super confident in everybody's speed right now. We're still evolving. That's a Wisconsin trademark. We get on the water later than everybody else. Every day we have a chance to row, we get better.
So everybody's pretty confident that we're going to be better at the end than we were in the beginning. So it's not sandbagging at all. It's just our reality, kind of. And I think what sets us apart a little bit this year is the speed of our varsity eight. In the past we've had good depth but we struggled to find the top end speed, and this year we've got eight walk on rowers in the varsity eight that found a way to come together and produce some of the fastest times we've ever had and be the most competitive so far of any boat that we've had.
So the leadership comes from the top, and I couldn't be prouder of them, and really the whole team. Because when you change a dynamic like that, it changes everything in practice and how they've been able to handle it and how they've been able to rise to that occasion. And we're still doing selection and everybody wants to be in the fastest boat possible, but they also understand that this is about the team. It's about the team first. And our ultimate goal is to bring it as much as we can to put ourselves in contention for that team championship.
So to be able to put yourself and what you want personally, not on the back burner really, but put the team first and row that way says leagues about this team, and I couldn't be prouder of them.
One thing about home court advantage, Lake Mendota is great for us because we travel around so much on the lake. We have four or five different places that we practice depending on the wind. So everywhere we go is sort of a home course advantage for us because we travel so much.
So Indianapolis is a challenging race course. It's one of the best race courses in the country. But it's almost always windy and the forecast is windy, so we'll be right at home there. We're looking forward to it.
Question #3: Having won the championship in 2010, most of the rowers know what it's going to take. What's it going to take with a strong field?
Bryans: I think it takes what it always takes, and that is to come and not get wrapped up in the outcome, but focus on the process and do what you can to stay within your own boat and get the best out of the nine people or the five people in that boat and not worry about anything or anybody else. And if you do that and you race your brains out, then you're going to be okay with the outcome.
And, again, if we do that, I think we will contend for a championship, and that's a strong field. Years past, I thought I would have been more confident in saying we've got a really good shot at this. I think we've got a really good shot at it. It's going to come down to who brings it, which is the way it should be.
Question #4: You seem very confident here today. Is there there's some wins this year against some bigger named teams early on, especially. Is that some of the reason why you're staying pretty confident?
Bryans: I'm confident because, again, this team has shown me that they're going to race on race day. So if we're fast enough, we'll win. If other people are faster than we are, then they'll beat us, but they'll beat us at our best.
I think any coach would agree that if you're not sure if your team is going to actually go for it on race day, it's a little bit nerve racking. It's a lot nerve racking. These guys are going to go. So I'm confident about that. And it really rowing is all about the athletes. The coaches aren't on the side yelling. We are, but they can't hear us. We have no impact on the racing whatsoever, from 45 minutes before the race until about half an hour after.
So to know that these guys have put themselves into position to take charge of their own destiny, it's a huge weight off of my shoulders, and I can't wait to watch them go.